Domestic violence levels high in rural Uganda

Male to female domestic violence levels in rural Uganda are high and associated with both alcohol consumption and the male partner's perceived risk of HIV, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study found that approximately one in three women living in rural Uganda reported being physically threatened or assaulted by their current partner. The findings from the study suggest possible links between the risk of domestic violence and alcohol consumption and women's perceived risk of HIV of their male partner. The study is published in the January 22, 2003 edition of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization and is among the first studies from Sub-Saharan Africa to examine domestic violence at a community level.

For the study, Michael Koenig, PhD, associate professor of population and family health sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Ronald Gray, MBBS, the School's William G. Robertson Professor of Population and Family Planning, collaborated with researchers from Columbia University and Uganda's Rakai Project. They surveyed 5,109 women and 3,881 men living in the Rakai District of Uganda, which is at the center of the country's AIDS epidemic. The women and men were asked detailed questions about their experiences and attitudes concerning domestic violence and sexual relationships.

Overall, the study found that 30 percent of women had experienced physical threats or abuse from their current partner and 20 percent reported experiencing violence during the year before the survey. Three of five women who reported physical threats or abuse experienced three or more specific acts of violence during the previous year. Nearly 50 percent reported receiving injuries as a result. Female to male domestic violence was less common. Five percent of women in the study said they had physically threatened or assaulted their male partners during the preceding year.

Contact: Tim Parsons
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

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